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2021 Annual Report

Building the will to end factory farming

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Letter from the Founder


In 2022, Farm Forward turns 15 years old and it’s a powerful time to reflect on just how much strength we’ve built. Our movement is stronger and closer to victory than you may think.

A seismic cultural shift

In the last twelve months Farm Forward’s call to transform animal agriculture has reached more people than ever before. The videos that we helped create on humanewashing1 and the link between factory farming and pandemics2 alone have been viewed more than a million times.

Our and others’ efforts are beginning to create a seismic cultural shift. Factory farming itself was the result of a massive cultural shift whereby Americans took the power to farm away from historic farm communities and handed that power over to large corporations that promised us cheap, clean, efficient food. Instead, what they gave us was climate change, superbugs, environmental racism, and a scale of animal suffering so immense that we literally cannot comprehend it—the groaning of billions of land animals and trillions of sea animals in nightmarish conditions.

With the leadership Farm Forward and our allies provide, consumers are now demanding more information about where their animal products come from,3 major retailers are dropping deceptive humanewashing labels,4 veganism is increasingly a mainstream choice, the climate change movement is finally realizing the impact of changing food systems, financiers are warning of the risks of investing in factory farms, and, as a result, even cultural icons like Harvard University are considering radically retooling their dining services to make plant-based proteins the new default.5

Exposing the Dirt on Humanewashing

Today industrial farms know that they have two possible futures: oblivion or deception.

Unsurprisingly, the factory farm machine is investing in deception like never before, coopting efforts to educate consumers, and—increasingly—using brands and charities we trust to prolong the fairy tale that factory farming requires only minor adjustments. This is why Farm Forward has energized our efforts to expose deception in animal welfare certifications.

The most powerful thing we can do to support a future where certifications have integrity is to highlight where certifications have failed us, creating the necessary energies to do better.

Farm Forward has always supported and continues to support any efforts that reduce farmed animal suffering, however dramatically or modestly. However, we must keep our eyes on the prize. Regulations that reduce the negative impacts of industrial farms along the way are welcome, but we will never allow our crucial and ongoing efforts at incremental improvement to weaken the clarity of our message: the factory farm was a mistake, it’s recent, and we can end it. Incremental improvement isn’t the goal, but the first step towards system transformation.

Ending Factory Farming, Together

In 2007 when Farm Forward was founded there wasn’t a single organization in the country that even claimed to be exclusively focused on ending factory farming—it was, as it sometimes still remains, at best a smaller side project of an organization with a larger mission. At Farm Forward, we have only ever had one mission: ending factory farming.6

We give special priority to animal welfare, but our supporters are also climate activists, environmentalists, public health advocates, anti-racism activists, and many others ready to stand with us against the industrial farm and in favor of a transformed food system for all. We’re omnivores, vegans, flexitarians and every other kind of eater. Though 15 years old, we are still a new kind of organization. Factory farming is a new kind of problem and requires no less.

The most powerful thing we can do to support a future where certifications have integrity is to highlight where certifications have failed us, creating the necessary energies to do better.

We’re proud that other nonprofits have joined us over the years; we’re pleased to see more resources at larger nonprofits directed to anti-factory farming efforts; and we’ve been especially honored to work with new philanthropists putting anti-factory farming efforts at the center of their portfolios.7 However, most of all, we’re grateful to all of you—our supporters and followers—for making it possible for us to spend our days fighting for this important social transformation.

The Farm Forward team is made of individuals with a lifetime commitment to transforming animal agriculture—this is not just an ordinary job for us, but a calling. We work tirelessly to keep abreast of the unfolding realities of industrial farming so that we can identify the pressure points capable of truly weakening and ultimately transforming animal agriculture as we know it. We live in a world that demands specialists, and our specialty is building the public will to end factory farming.

For 15 years we’ve been doing just that, and, with your help, we are just getting started!

The future isn’t here yet, but it’s clear it belongs to those of us who believe in a better way to farm.

Onward and forward,

Aaron S. Gross
Founder & CEO



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“The Dirt on Humanewashing,” Farm Forward, accessed January 6, 2022. Accessible here.


“End Big Poultry to Thwart the Next Pandemic,” Farm Forward, accessed January 6, 2022. Accessible here.


Ben Goldsmith, “Think You Can Find a Humanely Raised Turkey at Whole Foods? Think Again,” Farm Forward, November 9, 2021. Accessible here.


Dani S., “Giant Eagle Drops ‘One Health Certified’ Label Amidst Humanewashing Backlash,” Farm Forward, October 6, 2021. Accessible here.


DefaultVeg, Twitter post, February 2, 2021, 1:25 p.m. Accessible here.


Dani S., “Farming Forward,” Farm Forward, October 10th, 2021.


Andrew deCoriolis, Ben Goldsmith, Jennifer Channin, and John Millspaugh, “The Farmed Animal Protection Movement: Common Strategies for Improving and Protecting the Lives of Farmed Animals,” Farm Forward, October 28th, 2020. Accessible here.